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Friday, September 02, 2005 

Happy New Orleans Chef Blogging Friday

New Orleans is flavorful. You can't be in the city without smelling, tasting, endulging. On this Chef Blogging Friday we celebrate those chefs who made Nawhlins food known far and wide.

Emeril Lagasse (Emeril's, Nola, Delmonico)

As a boy, Emeril Lagasse began bread and pastry making
at a Portuguese bakery in his Fall River, MA, neighborhood. Turning down a music scholarship to follow his culinary dream, Emeril worked his way through the Johnson and Wales University culinary program to earn a doctorate.

After school, Emeril turned his eye toward the classic cuisine of France. He polished his skills in Paris and Lyons before returning to the US, where he worked in several fine restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Building a
reputation through his use of only the freshest products, he came to the attention of Ella Brennan, the doyenne of New Orleans' culinary community. She persuaded 26-year-old Emeril to move to the Big Easy, where for nearly eight years he presided over Ella and Dick Brennan's legendary restaurant, Commander's

Emeril opened his own restaurant in 1990. From the day its doors opened, Emeril's Restaurant and its owner drew ecstatic praise. Congratulations came not only from the local New Orleans gentry and the writers who prowl the region for culinary news, but also from such national magazines as Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure, as well as from such noted food critics as John Mariani and Gene Bourg. - FoodNetwork

Paul Prudhomme (K-Paul's)
From a very early age, Paul Prudhomme knew that he wanted to make preparing food his life's work. After completing school, he traveled for several years, working as a cook in all kinds of restaurants, and learning as much as he could about the ingredients and styles of cooking in different parts of the country. "Sometimes, when I thought the food was too bland, I'd sneak in a few dried herbs and spices," he said. "When customers complimented the dishes from my station, I'd try to remember exactly what I'd used, but that was hard, so I began keeping little notes on good mixes in my pockets. Sometimes I'd get caught, and this didn't make me popular with the head chefs."

His wanderlust temporarily satisfied, Prudhomme came to New Orleans, a mere 90 miles from his home, where he honed his skills and built a following at a noted Garden District restaurant. Then, in 1979, he and his late wife, K Hinrichs Prudhomme, opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. A small restaurant on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, it was originally envisioned as a casual eatery for local customers. Word soon spread of the magic being created in the little kitchen, though, and it wasn't long before customers, both natives and tourists, began lining up to sample some of the amazing dishes created by Chef Paul Prudhomme. Two of his signature creations - - Blackened Redfish and Blackened Steak - - are widely imitated. -
Chef Paul Prudhomme

The late Jamie Shannon (Commander's Palace)
Shannon, a 17-year veteran of the famed New Orleans restaurant and co-author of the "Commander's Kitchen" cookbook, was known as a champion of southern Louisiana regional ingredients and a consummate cook. He won the James Beard Award as best Southeastern chef in 1999 and led the kitchen of Commander's Palace when the Beard Foundation named the restaurant the nation's best in 1996.

Shannon was born Oct. 31, 1961, in Sea Isle, N.J. He was introduced early to local foods when he visited his grandparents, who owned a nearby farm, where they raised vegetables, chickens and hogs. He later worked in a cafeteria and a seafood restaurant in Wildwood, N.J., before attending The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, on a full scholarship. After graduation he served as saucier at Ivana's restaurant in the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.

He joined the kitchen staff of Commander's Palace in 1984 when Lagasse was executive chef. Beginning as a saucier, Shannon moved up through the ranks to executive sous chef When Lagasse left in 1990 to open his own restaurant, Shannon was named to replace him.

During his tenure as executive chef both Shannon and Commander's Palace were recipients of numerous awards. Those honors include Chef of the Year from Chefs of America, 1992; Outstanding Service Award, James Beard Foundation, 1993; No. 1 Restaurant in America, Food & Wine magazine, 1995; Most Popular Restaurant, Zagat Survey, New Orleans, 1999; and No.2 Chef in the World, Robb Report, 1999.

In 1997, when asked if New Orleans felt like home to him, the New Jersey native responded: "It is my home. I love the summer. The food is incredible. The people are outstanding. And then you have the music. It has so much culture and depth. I wake up every morning and say, 'I love New Orleans, and I love my wife and I love my job.'" -
Nation's Restaurant News

and one of the dishes that really symbolically represents the Crescent City.....

Bananas Foster

In the 1950's, New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Edward Brennan challenged his talented chef, Paul Blangé, to include bananas in a new culinary creation-Owen's way of promoting the imported fruit. Simultaneously, Holiday Magazine had asked Owen to provide a new recipe to appear in a feature article on Brennan's.

In 1951, Chef Paul created Bananas Foster. The scrumptious dessert was named for Richard Foster, who, as chairman, served with Owen on the New Orleans Crime Commission, a civic effort to clean up the French Quarter. Richard Foster, owner of the Foster Awning Company, was a frequent customer of and a very good friend of Owen.

Little did anyone realize that Bananas Foster would become an international favorite and is the most requested item on the restaurant's menu. Thirty-five thousand pounds of bananas are flamed each year at in the preparation of its world-famous dessert.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.
Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.

When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.

Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

I challenge other food bloggers to give to aid those who worked in the food industry and made New Orleans so flavorful:

New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund A fund has been established to benefit employees of the hospitality industry of the Greater New Orleans area who have experienced hardships because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Contributions may be sent to:

Greater Houston Community Foundation
4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77027
Call 713-333-2200 for additional information.

i found you through your comment on nic's blog. i will definately be trying to contribute to that disaster relief fund. reading your blog and seeing your intense feelings of devastation over what has happened due to katrina has truly given me more of a feeling of heart break.

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